Sunday, December 8, 2013

Products I Love

Trying out beauty supplies is sort of a hobby of mine, as I'm sure it is for a lot of women. My powder room cabinets are filled with baskets of bottles and tubes, some of which I should really probably throw out. Here are a few products I will not be throwing out, though.
I'll start with the Got2B Smooth Operator with Cashmere Lustre Lotion and Smoothing Hairspray. I use the lotion on my hair when it's wet, and I apply it to the ends when my hair is dry. The spray doesn't get stiff. It is a light formula that makes hair look smooth and healthy. Unlike some smoothing products, these do not make my hair look oily. The smell is terrific, too. It reminds me of a Strawberry Shortcake doll. Not only do these products smell amazing, they help tame fly aways, which I tend to get in colder weather. This stuff is so fancy, the main ingredient is "agua." These retail for around $5.00 each. I purchased mine from Walgreens, but they're available on Amazon: Got2B Products on Amazon

The clear nail polish pictured (which I know you can barely see) gives my nails superhero strength. My nails have ridges, and they don't grow as fast as I would like, but this product solves both problems. I'm picky about polish; I can't stand bubbles or peeling. I like to apply one coat per day over four days. It can be used underneath and over nail color. It costs about $7.00 at Sally's, and it's available on Amazon right here: European Secrets Top Coat  

I used to use Proactiv Solution, which is available here: Proactiv is on Amazon.  The stuff works. I only get acne around once a month, but the gritty cleanser and the toner and lotion work together to tighten and freshen the skin immediately, eventually clearing my acne after a few days' use. Any small pimples I have when I use the system look smaller immediately afterward. Proactiv really as good as Adam Levine and the other infomercial stars say it is. 

I used to use Proactiv, but I don't anymore because of the price. And if you get on their monthly shipment plan, you might get annoyed by the lack of control you have in getting the product you need. (I would always run out of the toner long before I ran out of the other two.) Pictured above is the Equate brand, which is available at Walmart for an amazing $13.00.  I'm not kidding. The same system, the same number of ounces per bottle, for about a third of the price. And it is the exact same product. I have used both the Proativ system and the Equate brand, and I cannot tell the difference.

If I think of any other products I like, you'll see them here, so check back.

Also, feel free to comment below if you've had bad experiences with any of these, or if you have products you want to recommend to me. 



Work-Out Music

Make no mistake, I am not pretending to be a devoted athlete. I know I should, but I don't exercise regularly. I'm not going to list my excuses for not getting off the couch more, but they're the same reasons I don't blog more often than I do.

I feel really great when I get a chance to walk or jog or dance around, and I know I should do it more. Thanks to iTunes, my endeavors are much more tolerable. Below is a list of songs in my song list titled "Get Up." Don't judge me for my outdated (Beastie Boys), sometimes explicit (Nine Inch Nails), and somewhat embarrassing (Black Eyed Peas) selections, and I won't judge you for liking the shit you listen to. Well, I will. But not out loud.

I'm listing these in order of optimal play, with warm-up and slow-down songs at the beginning and end. I usually just set the list to Shuffle and skip songs when necessary.

1.  "I Turn My Camera On"  (Spoon)
2.  "Heavy Metal Drummer" (Wilco) 
3.  "Run" (Vampire Weekend)
4.  "Day n Nite" (Kid Cudi)
5.  "Don't You Evah" (Spoon)
6.  "Kids" (MGMT)
7.  "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" (Jet)

8.  "Here it Goes Again" (OK Go)
9.  "Hung Up" (Madonna)
10.  "Brass Monkey" (Beastie Boys)
11.  "Burning Down the House" (Talking Heads)
12.  "Can't Stop" (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
13.  "Like a G6" (Far East Movement, the Cataracs and Dev)
14.  "Mr. Brightside" (The Killers)
15.  "Song 2" (Blur)
16.  "Head Like a Hole" (Nine Inch Nails)
17.   "Zero" (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
18.  "Uncle Jonny" (The Killers)
19.  "Da Rockwilder" (Method Man & Redman)
20.  "Juicy" (Better than Ezra)
21.  "I Am the Walrus" (Beatles)
22.  "White Sky" (Vampire Weekend)

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Childhood Memory

When I think about my childhood, I remember the kids my mom babysat. She kept children at our house during the years before I started school. This group of young people consisted of four girls and one (probably miserable) boy.
The other kids and I played outside a lot, and we got in trouble frequently. I remember dragging out all my parents' LP records and laying them out on the living room carpet. They were to serve as "stepping stones" in an imaginary alligator swamp. Mom walked in before anyone stepped on a record, and I'm glad she did.  ABBA Gold and Harper Valley PTA are probably worth a lot of money now.

The other kids and I fought often. I never really had to share on a regular basis, so learning to share with my four new "sisters" every day was difficult. I've been told, after all, that I was the biggest brat in Decatur County.

The most unforgettable moment from my childhood was when our neighbor's bees escaped the white wooden boxes that housed them. I don't know a lot about bees, so I don't know why or how they got out. We were most likely playing a game of Dallas or Alice near the swingset, and I was probably bossing everyone around when it happened. Mom herded us kids into the kitchen, where I watched the bees through the screen door. Everyone was eerily quiet. We could hear the roar of the bees, which sounded like, well, thousands of bees buzzing at once.

Mr. Howard Greenway, the owner of the bee boxes, came wobbling out of his back door. He had his beekeeper suit on, and he awkwardly hoisted up his bee smoker. He pulled the black veil of his hat over his face and began smoking the bees furiously. He pumped the smoke out of the smoker so profusely that all we could see of his yard was a huge cloud of smoke. Then Howard emerged from the fog, waving his arm over his face. Suddenly, his white beekeeper pants fell to his ankles, and he stood out there in red striped boxer shorts, visible to everyone in the neighborhood. Poor Mr. Greenway bowed down and saw that his pants had fallen, and he angrily threw off his beekeeper helmet and ran into his house, but not quickly; his pants were still around his ankles.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nap Shame

It's summer, so school is out and my sleep patterns are deranged. I haven't had to get up at 4:30 AM since May 18, and I'm rebelling. I feel like I deserve a loose sleep schedule since normally my sleep is so utterly restricted. Don't get me wrong; I never get to sleep late. If I don't wake up first, my seven-year-old baby girl crawls into bed with me around 6:30 AM and tells me it's time to get up. Therefore, naps are my way of gaining some well-deserved sleep.

I've been a napper for decades. In college, a two-hour break between classes was a perfect opportunity to head to the dormitory for a nice snooze. I actually wrote a letter of complaint to the Dean of Housing  because maintenance was vacuumining the halls during the day. I said that the vacumming had to stop "because some people need to rest." I never received a response. Naps get no respect.  

When my daughter was four, I was awakened from a nap on the couch at 11:00 AM. (Don't judge me; I had been awake since 6:00!) It was my mother-in-law. I jumped up, cleared my throat, and answered the phone with a "life-is-good-and-I'm-wide-awake" voice.

She asked, "Do you know where Taylor is?" I laughed and started looking around the living room. I opened the closet and the guest bathroom door. No child appeared.

"Oh, she's around here somewhere. Do you want to talk to her?" I asked, starting to feel a little panicked.

"Nooooo, she's right here. She walked over." Crap. My child left her no-good mother passed out on the couch and walked across the cornfield to her Nana's.

Nana drove Taylor back home to me, and I was grateful for Taylor's safety, of course, but a small part of me wanted to say, "Would it kill you to babysit her from time to time?"  That was just the sleep talking.

Today I discovered that my husband's side job is keeping me from napping. He is a full-time concrete salesman and a part-time nap-blocker. During the day he slaves over orders and bids for concrete, sometimes loading and driving the truck when he has to. On the side, he works very hard to keep me awake when I start to nod off on the couch. It seems that every single time I fall asleep on the couch, he calls or he comes home for one reason or another. I love naps, and being awakened pisses me off.

Nobody will go right out and say it, but it seems that naps are socially unacceptable. I have a number of friends who don't nap, claiming they just can't sleep that much. My gandmother always said, "Six hours of sleep for a man, seven hours of sleep for a woman, and eight hours of sleep for a fool." Well, counting naps, I guess I am the biggest fool on the planet.

Naps are a necessary part of my life, and I don't know what to do to make myself stay awake all day long. I think I may have to try, though. My daughter just walked over and said, "Did you know that I jumped off the balcony yesterday while you were asleep?" I sure hope she was kidding.

Ghost Adventures

I'm not saying I necessarily believe in ghosts, the kind that evolve from the lost souls of the dead, the wispy white barely-visible entities that sometimes get caught on camera and appear in photographs of otherwise typical family living rooms. I'm not saying I think orbs are the manifestations of spirits or ghosts. You can't say I ever claimed to buy into that whole thing.

However, I absolutely love being scared out of my wits by a good ghost story, and I adore the television series Ghost Adventures, Celebrity Ghost Stories, and Haunted History.

When the Ghost Adventure team captures a voice on their Ghost Detection Device (available here:, I often think there's no way a digital recorder can possibly translate random sounds into words from beyond the grave. Sometimes I scoff at the ghost seakers' fear, and I often think, "Yeah, right. Looks like a speck of dust to me," but more often I am swept away by the mania and excitement that comes with searching out a ghost.

Celebrity Ghost Stories, which is now on its fourth season on Biography, never fails to entertain me. I saw the late Rue McClanahan's account of watching her friend die, and in his final words, he said he would "come back" through electricity.  Sure enough, Rue was later accosted by an unexplained blinking light bulb in her kitchen. Movie director John Waters claimed to have a supernatural experience while at summer camp when he was a boy, and Mickey Rooney, the most adorable man alive, was startled awake by an entity that shared a life-changing message.

My earliest memory of hearing a ghost story was at 4-H camp when I was in middle school. Our teen counselor led all of us to a campfire one evening. We all gathered round the fire, and the counselor asked if we wanted to hear a scary story. A few kids confirmed that, yes, a scary story was just the thing. I was a little worried that such an experience would cause me to develop a sleep disorder, but I acquiesced. The young counselor proceeded to tell Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" with such practiced fludity, that I felt I was in Prince Prospero's castle, staring into the bloody face of death itself. From then on, I was hooked.

My brother and I shared an LP (which is the way my generation refers to a record) titled  Haunted House. One side contained a terrific story about a ghost who causes the untimely death of all who see her. The opposite side presented scary sounds, such as howls and screams. When the record received its first inevitable scratch, it caused the scream of a woman to repeat, and that was a neat effect. We played the record all year long; it wasn't just for Halloween.

When I visited my friend Trisha in 2009, she drove us to Savannah, Georgia, where we reluctantly boarded a hearse for a haunted tour of the city. It was fascinating. Our tour guide knew so much about Savannah's history, and I really felt that I might see a ghost at the next turn. We had a great time, and I highly recommend this type of tour to anyone who loves a good ghost story.
While on the tour, I made the mistake of saying, "Orbs? Aren't those just flying insects or specks of dust?" The tour guide replied, "Well, I've never seen a speck of dust with a demon face on it, have you?" I had never seen an orb with a face in it, but I've been looking for one ever since.  

People Who Aren't in a Hurry

Yesterday morning was hectic. I had to get Taylor up before she was ready to wake up. Getting her dressed wasn't a problem, but her hair was unruly. I have started a new tactic for that: I give her the hairbrush and the flat iron and leave her alone for a while. She does a pretty good job.

I had to go to Walgreens, and Taylor didn't like that. "Why can't you do this later?" she asked. I really needed to get the photos for yesterday's Young Writers' Camp activity, so I marched into Walgreens with Taylor behind me complaining, "Why are you running?"

When we entered the store, I was instantly annoyed by what I saw: two people already standing at the Walgreens Photo Counter. I walked closer and soon learned that these hippies were new to photo developing. The saleslady was super helpful to these morons.

"How long will it take? Really? Just an hour?? AND you can put them on a CD? Wow!"  I waited patiently, or appeared to, I think.

When it was my turn to receive service, the saleslady kindly located my five packs of photos and began idle chit-chat with my daughter. I glanced at my cell phone to see the time.

The saleslady clicked on her keyboard a while and stared at her screen, head tilted back the way far-sighted people often do. "Let's see. We have a coupon, I think, when you develop more than three rolls."

I bit my lip. The saleslady turned back to my packages of photos and started opening one. "I didn't get a chance to see these. He developed them when I was out yesterday," she said. I knew what she would see if she opened the package; my Young Writers' Camp kids had taken all sorts of random pictures with their disposable cameras. If she looked through the photos, she would find snapshots of ceiling tiles, the elevator button panel, and the drink machines. I thought, "Who are you, the photo gestapo? Checking to see if I'm hiding Jews that I inexplicably chose to photograph as a memento of happy times in my attic?" I couldn't help myself. "I'm in a hurry," I said, and I placed my hand over the package of photos she was trying to open.

The saleslady was obviously ruffled by the new development, as if having to be somewhere by a certain time was unheard of.

"Well, okay," she said tartly.

When we walked out, Taylor again asked, "Why are you running?"

I said, "To make up for the time we just wasted," and when I heard myself, I realized how ridiculous it sounded.  Maybe I'm a little obsessive about being on time.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My 2012 Summer Reading List So Far

Toys-James Patterson
A Night in the Lonesome October-Roger Zelazny
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie-Alan Bradley
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag-Alan Bradley
I am Half Sick of Shadows-Alan Bradley
Fablehaven-Brandon Mull
Fifty Shades of GreyTrilogy-E.L. James
Daughter of Smoke and Bone-Laini Taylor
Game of Thrones Series-George R.R. Martin

Confessions of a Scary Mommy-Jill Smokler
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated-Alison Arngrim